The Sheep Song @ Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide 16/3/2023

Belgium’s FC Bergman collective has created a visually spectacular and emblematic production with The Sheep Song.

A contemporary animal fable, The Sheep Song is the story of a sheep making a Faustian bargain with a bellringer to become human. The entire narrative is relayed visually, sans words. It depicts an innocent sheep’s metamorphosis and the moral dilemmas associated with his journey from animal to human.

The Sheep Song begins with a flock of literal sheep on stage. One is unsatisfied with his simple life. He yearns for more. As he gradually rises from four legs to two, a wondrous sojourn of transformation begins.

Via a pair of conveyor belts, the sheep (Titus De Voogdt) voyages through a sequence of moving montages where he encounters faceless characters that profoundly affect him. The tableaux are at times humorous, joyful, absurd, and heartbreaking but always visually stunning. The constantly moving stage is an innovative and spectacular technique to progress the narrative. It highlights that the sheep may be moving but is not going anywhere.

Ultimately becoming disenchanted with humanity, the half-sheep half-human returns to his flock and is rejected. He is no longer a sheep but equally not a human.

Titus De Voogdt is magnificent as the sheep. In a challenging, physically demanding role, he portrays heightened emotions while evoking sympathy from the audience, despite wearing a face covering for the duration of the production.

Stage engineering is akin to a flawlessly choreographed dance. When combined with the music (Frederik Leroux-Roels), sound design (Senjan Janssen), costumes (Joëlle Meerbergen), and lighting (Ken Hioco), an astute vision abounds.

The Sheep Song is a mesmerising, inimitable experience that is a reminder that the grass may not be greener on the other side. It is a play that will remain in memories for a long time.

Adelaide Festival Review By Anita Kertes

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